CS Lewis’s mythical children’s story (the first in the Narnia series) has been made for the screen before (a 1988 TV adaptation) but this is the most spectacular version you’re likely to see, as directed by Shrek’s Andrew Adamson. Filmed in New Zealand (which gives it a similar epic feel to The Lord of the Rings), it’s the story of four children evacuated to a sprawling country house during the Second World War, who discover a wardrobe that leads to the magical world of Narnia.
It’s little Lucy (an adorable turn by Henley) who first discovers the snowbound world when she hides among the fur coats in the wardrobe, but soon her selfish brother Edmund (Skandar Keynes), sceptical sister Susan (Anna Popplewell) and oldest brother Peter (William Moseley) are also exploring the strange land of talking animals and whispering trees, frozen in ice by the White Witch (a spectacularly mean turn from Swinton). According to Narnian legend, only four humans can end her evil reign, and those four are the children, who have to be protected by creatures such as Mr and Mrs Beaver (voiced by Ray Winstone and Dawn French), Mr Tumnus (James McAvoy) and the regal lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson).
A beautiful mix of live action and animated creatures, this is a terrific telling of Lewis’s tale that should impress everyone and possibly inspire kids to read the other books in the series. There are some scary scenes – the wolves chasing the children are particularly nasty and there’s a battle scene that boys will probably love but smaller children may be frightened by – and atheist older viewers may be turned off by the religious undertones that were present in Lewis’s stories (Aslan the lion perhaps represents Jesus), but all in all this is an impressive and entertaining adaptation of a classic book.
Is The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Tilda Swinton’s White Witch is definitely frightening for the under-6s.
There is a wolf chase that is scary, and a brutal fight scene that is too violent for young children.
SPOILER! Children will also be upset late in the movie when Aslan is tied up and killed.
If you like this, why not try: The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Five Children And It,